Skip to main content

Hundreds held in China for spreading doomsday rumors

By CNN Staff
updated 6:47 PM EST, Thu December 20, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The group is called the Almighty God cult
  • Many of the group's members are poor, unemployed or both
  • Doomsday rumors are being spread at public venues, authorities say

(CNN) -- More than 600 members of a fringe Christian group in China have been detained for spreading rumors of an impending apocalypse, pegged to the Mayan calendar, China's Xinhua news agency reported.

Known as the Almighty God cult, the group latched on to the Mayan doomsday scenario to predict the sun would not shine and electricity would not work for three days beginning on December 21.

The cult was established in 1990 in central China and requires its members to surrender their property to the group.

Group members have spread doomsday rumors door-to-door or at public venues and claimed only they could save people's lives, according to authorities.

Mayans prepare for end of calendar
Debunking doomsday: Mayan calendar

Read more: Some believe Friday is doomsday on the Mayan calendar; the Mayans don't

December 21, 2012, is the endpoint of a more than 5,000-year Great Cycle marked on the "Long Count" calendar of the Mayans, an ancient Native American civilization from Mexico and Central America.

Some say this date marks the end of the world, while others suggest it marks the beginning of a new era.

Most of the cult members seized by police were detained for five to 10 days for disturbing social order, Xinhua reported. Police have seized a large number of leaflets, banners, computer discs, slogans, books and printing machines.

Read more: China cracks down on 'Doomsday cult'

Arrests have been reported in Qinghai, Sichuan, Guangdong, and Guizhou provinces and in the capital, Beijing.

"Advice before catastrophe: Satan's men will be extinct. Only the 'Almighty God' can save man. Anybody who resists God will go to hell," a leaflet said.

Cao Wei, a police officer with the Shanghua police station in Lanxi City, said cult members ask new believers to write letters of assurance to show their loyalty to the "Almighty God" and to evangelize.

Xinhua reported that one member wrote a letter saying, "I must preach to 100 people today, or I will be cursed."

Most of the cult's members are in their 40s, unemployed people in urban areas or low-income groups affected by illness or disaster. The group believes that Jesus has been resurrected as a Chinese woman, Xinhua reported.

Authorities say the cult intimidates people who try to leave.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 1:18 AM EDT, Wed October 29, 2014
A top retired general has confessed to taking bribes, becoming the highest-profile figure in China's military to be caught up in President Xi Jinping's war on corruption.
updated 1:07 AM EDT, Mon October 27, 2014
A group in China escapes from a stuck elevator thanks to one man and his trusty hammer. CNN's Kristie Lu Stout reports.
updated 9:52 AM EDT, Thu October 23, 2014
Facebook's founder says he taught himself Mandarin and tested his skills with students in China.
updated 9:33 PM EDT, Thu October 23, 2014
China launched an experimental spacecraft that is scheduled to orbit the moon before returning to Earth.
updated 12:19 PM EDT, Tue October 28, 2014
Full marks for ingenuity: This was a truly high-tech scam.
updated 1:26 AM EDT, Tue October 21, 2014
The rationale behind Confucius Institutes -- an international chain of academic centers run by an arm of the Chinese government -- is understandable.
updated 11:11 AM EDT, Fri October 24, 2014
Smooth jazz saxophonist Kenny G wants everyone to know that he's not a foreign agitator trying to defy the Chinese Communist Party.
updated 7:13 AM EDT, Fri October 17, 2014
A smuggler in Dandong, a Chinese border town near North Korea, tells CNN about the underground trade with North Korean soldiers
updated 1:11 AM EDT, Tue October 28, 2014
Yenn Wong got quite a surprise one morning earlier this month when she found out an exact copy of her Hong Kong restaurant had opened in China.
updated 11:15 PM EDT, Tue October 14, 2014
When I first came across a "virtual lover" service on e-commerce site Taobao, China's version of Amazon, I thought it was hype.
updated 9:15 AM EDT, Tue October 14, 2014
Each year Yi Jiefeng does what she can to stop China turning into a desert.
updated 10:54 AM EDT, Mon October 13, 2014
As its relationship with the West worsen, Russia is pivoting east in an attempt to secure business with China.
updated 10:29 PM EDT, Tue October 7, 2014
Aspiring Chinese comics performing in Shanghai's underground comedy scene hope to bring stand-up to the masses.
updated 12:54 PM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
Liu Wen is one of the world's highest-paid models and the first Chinese face to crack the top five in Forbes' annual list of top earners.
updated 7:44 AM EDT, Fri October 3, 2014
Cunning wolf? Working class hero? Or bland Beijing loyalist? C.Y. Leung was a relative unknown when he came to power in 2012.
updated 7:25 AM EDT, Thu October 2, 2014
 A man uses his smartphone on July 16, 2014 in Tokyo, Japan. Only 53.5% of Japanese owned smartphones in March, according to a white paper released by the Ministry of Communications on July 15, 2014. The survey of a thousand participants each from Japan, the U.S., Britain, France, South Korea and Singapore, demonstrated that Japan had the fewest rate of the six; Singapore had the highest at 93.1%, followed by South Korea at 88.7%, UK at 80%, and France at 71.6%, and U.S. at 69.6% in the U.S. On the other hand, Japan had the highest percentage of regular mobile phone owners with 28.7%. (Photo by Atsushi Tomura/Getty Images)
App hopes to help those seeking a way out of China's overstrained public health system.
updated 8:20 PM EDT, Thu October 2, 2014
Yards from pro-democracy protests, stands the Hong Kong garrison of the People's Liberation Army (PLA), China's armed forces.
ADVERTISEMENT